By Jim Misunas
Two California inventors with Great Bend ties believe they have another hit on their hands — the Jingle Qube.
Co-inventors Jeff Sallee of Great Bend and Mark Schnose of Hays became friends through the Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps in Great Bend from 1975 to 1979. They were students of Mitch Markovich, the drum instructor for the Argonne Rebels and percussion chair at Fort Hays State University.
They relocated in Los Angeles County and have reunited as inseparable friends. They’ve turned their lifetime fascination with percussion into a money-making endeavor with their company Visionary Directions LLC in California.
Their Qube Shaker, an innovative percussion shaker, has been marketed successfully by Latin Percussion, the world leader in production and marketing of percussion instruments.
LP has taken the technology used in its wildly successful and award-winning Qube Shaker and created a jingle version that sounds like nothing else you’ve ever played.
Inside the durable and easy-to-hold Jingle Qube is a combination of flat and dimpled brass jingles. This mix delivers a stunning combination of both crisp, articulate highs balanced with full-bodied, resonating mid-tones.
Like the Qube Shaker, the Jingle Qube can be played a variety of ways to produce a myriad of distinctive and captivating sounds. Front-to-back, side-to-side and circular patterns all produce distinctive sounds that add a unique, tambouric flair to any performance.
“The Jingle Qube is basically a multi-directional tambourine,” Schnose said. “People will be familiar with the tambourine as a percussion instrument. Some of the concepts we used with the original Qube, we were able to get new capability out of the tambourine that was previously impossible. The name Jingle Qube comes from the fact the metal plate that produces a sound on a tambourine is actually called jingles.”
The Jingle Qube was introduced to the market at the 2012 National Association of Music Merchandisers Show in Anaheim Calif.
“That’s where the music retailers see what’s new and see what they want to stock in their stores,” Schnose said. “It’s a gathering place for musicians. We had a lot of positive feedback from retailers and especially the musicians. They picture themselves playing it.”
The Jingle Qube drew a favorable response.
“We got a lot of positive feedback, probably more positive than the previous product,” Sallee said. “This one has a visual appeal that the other one didn’t because you can see inside of it. People are drawn towards it out of curiosity.”
Professional musicians were also interested in the Jingle Qube.
“We had orchestra percussionists who looked at it and they were enthusiastic,” Sallee said. “Musicians wanted to use it immediately on stage. They thought it could fit a missing element in their percussion sound.”
Schnose said the initial response, especially by musicians, was promising. Often, backup singers will play a tambourine. A musician from India who plays ‘blues style,” music was also intrigued.
“We had several backup singers who said she needed to have it,” Schnose said. “One gal that sings in an Elton John Tribute band and she used it in a performance at the NAMM show.
Schnose said the Jingle Qube concept came about quite by accident. The family’s German Shepherd had destroyed a screen door on a shed and left a twisted and mangled heavy duty metal mesh.
“I was going to throw it away, but I thought I could use that,” Schnose said. “I perceived it to be part of a Qube and having tambourine parts on the inside. I cut the screen door into a cross-shape you would use to fold a paper into a Qube. I ran a coat hanger in the middle of it. I figured out a way to keep the jingles from colliding into each other.”
Sallee and Schnose pitched six ideas for the 2012 NAMM show.
“The one we thought was least appealing because it was so rough, it sounded right and appealed to them,” Sallee said. “The one that we spent the least time and money on happened to be this Jingle Qube. We learned a funny lesson. You never know what appeals to them. We laugh about it.”
The concept wasn’t quite a finished product.
“We called it the not quite square Qube,” Schnose said. “We were able to take with their engineer and all they cared about was that it worked. It’s nice to have that kind of relationship. They will make it pretty.”
Sallee said the Jingle Qube is already being marketed by Sam Ash Music, Guitar Center and speciality trade magazines.
“The LP people asked, ‘What will you have for us next year?’ “ Sallee said. “They are looking forward to what else we have in our bag of tricks. That’s a perfect place where an inventor wants to be.”
Promotions have started at Sam Ash Music stores and Guitar Centers. It is featured in the catalogues.
The Qube Shaker won a Best of Show Award at the 2011 NAMM show. The NAMM show is one of the world’s biggest events for the music industry to highlight their products.
Schnose, the son of Arthur and Ruth Schnose, is a 1979 graduate of Hays High School and 1983 Fort Hays State University. He works as a psychologist in the Los Angeles area after earning a doctorate degree in clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.
Sallee, the son of Virginia Sallee, is a 1979 graduate of Great Bend High School. He attended Fort Hays State University before leaving to Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. He works for an office machine service and repair company and continues his music passion playing drums in his own jazz band, SpareTime (www.sparetimejazz.com).